If you ask my siblings they’ll tell you I’m an expert at sibling relationships. Why? You ask. Because I spent my entire adolescence as the culprit of sibling drama.
The way my mom tells it, the day my oldest brother and I started getting along my younger brother and I started fighting and it was then confirmed who was the driving force behind the contention.
Don’t worry, I always have a mouthful to say about it (because there is no way it was MY fault 😉) when we are all together these days and my dad is reminiscing about that time we took TWO cars on a long road trip to AZ because he wasn’t about to go if my brother and I were in the same car 😆.
My siblings and I are best friends now. My family is drama free. I refuse to let my kids waste so many precious years of bonding, like I did so well.
Because of my first hand experience I have a few pointers 😊
My kids get along very well. I know we have many years ahead of us, but the last 7 years of sibling experience has been great. And we have a lot of different personalities going on over here. This is what has worked so far for us.
I like to memorize phrases that I use over and over, little nuggets that will stick with the kids and make my job easier because I always know what to say “in the moment.”
1. I have ZERO tolerance for unkindness toward each other. Our home is a safe place for these kids and I don’t want someone’s safe place compromised because of someone inside our home. So, if they are struggling to be kind toward their siblings I say “unfortunately, you won’t be able to play with others outside our home because if you aren’t kind to those inside our home I can’t trust you’ll be kind to those outside our home” for the ones that don’t care about friend time yet and even the older ones I say “unfortunately you’ll have to stay and play by me because I can’t trust you’ll be kind when I’m not around.” It doesn’t take long of them having to follow me around for the behavior to straighten right up!
2. I remind them all the time they are best friends. “You are best friends and that’s not how we treat the people we love.” “We are best friends in our home.” “You’ll always have each other, you’re best friends”
3. I get sad instead of mad. “I’m so sad when you treat each other that way.”
4. I don’t do time out 😱 but sometimes I have them step away from the situation until they have a “calm voice, face and body” then they can go back and solve the problem. When they get worked up I often say “it’s hard to solve a problem when you don’t have a calm voice, face and body.” Then I help them calm down before we try to reason with one another. (phrase is taken from the amazing book “A House United” by Nicholeen Peck).
5. Focus on what you want instead of what you don’t want. I always tell them “You are great problem solvers so I know you can work it out.” But even when they aren’t I remind them often they are and I swear that voice in their heads reminds them in the moment, because I say it enough, and they start to believe in themselves. You can also say “I trust you can work it out. Let me know if you’d like some suggestions” I rarely intervene. But I will give suggestions from the sidelines. Now they rarely need suggestions. They also know the guidelines of when it’s necessary to come get me.
I’m always gleaning nuggets from others and I hope this maybe helps you! Let me know if you have any tricks up your sleeve!